Skinny Cajun Shrimp and Grits

She’s back, my inner southern belle, and she made you the creamiest, cheesiest, bangin’est Cajun Shrimp and Grits. Put on your biggest hat, pour yourself a glass of sweet tea, and let’s settle in for a plate of pure southern bliss.

Skinny Cajun Shrimp and Grits. A healthy 15 minute meal!

I’m not sure what it is about the idea of being southern that appeals to me so. The charming accent? The more relaxed pace of life? The abundance of high quality fried chicken, cheese straws, and buttermilk pie?

While my hair would never survive the southern humidity, and I speak at far too great a volume to be invited for tea with polite company, southern cuisine inspires me. While I can’t pretend to be an expert at the real-deal, I enjoy taking classic southern dishes like shrimp and grits and adding my own healthy twists and preparation short cuts to make them both lighter and attainable for the average home cook. My first project was this juicy, crisp Baked Fried Chicken; I have these tasty Tabasco Coconut Shrimp Skewers, which were inspired by a trip to Louisiana; and I am continuing my slimmed-down southern food adventures with today’s 15-minute Cajun Shrimp and Grits.

15 Minute Skinny Shrimp and Grits. I couldn't believe this was lightened up!

15 Minute Cajun Shrimp and Grits

My first experience with grits was the kind of culinary trauma most commonly associated with meatloaf and lima beans: a terrible childhood encounter that leads one to banish a particular food for all eternity. I vaguely remember my mom slopping a grainy, gelatinous blob onto my plate, informing me that it was called “grits,” then commanding me to eat it. I’m not entirely sure how the story ended (grits smothered into my napkin perhaps?), but from that moment on, I swore that the vile, lumpy mass would never again pass my lips.

Fast forward to college, when I traveled to Mobile, Alabama, to spend spring break with a friend’s family. We went out for a brunch, and my legit southern belle of a friend insisted that I try the cheesy grits. Coolly ignoring my loud, toddler-like disagreement, she ordered me a bowl and sweetly demanded that I taste them. After much cajoling (and a bloody Mary), I nervously lifted my fork, scooped the tiniest possible bite, and…oh grits, I sincerely regret the years I wasted despising you. Do forgive me, and let’s spend the rest of our lives celebrating the joy that you are.

Real grits are absolutely nothing like the lumpy, grainy mass I experienced in childhood. They are rich, comforting, and perfectly suited for pairing with the sharp, gooey cheddar and plump, Cajun-spiced shrimp you’ll find in today’s recipe.

Oven Roasted Cajun Shrimp and Grits

The key to grit success is to pour them into the water slowly, whisk constantly, and never ever use instant grits. While true southern chefs will steer you away from quick-cooking grits as well (despite the similar name, quick-cooking are different than instant), I found the quick-cooking kind to be perfectly agreeable, and they are ready in 5 minutes instead of 50. (If you are grit curious, you can read more about the different types here.)

For big flavor and a touch of decadence, I tossed in sharp cheddar cheese, nutty Parmesan, green onions, and a pat of butter. Traditional grits often call for half and half and/or a full stick of butter, but I found the grits to be plenty rich and creamy without them.

Cheesy Grits with Scallions and Cheddar. Perfect for Cajun shrimp and grits

Front to back, these Skinny Cajun Shrimp and Grits are ready in 15 minutes, leaving you plenty of extra time to enjoy that glass of sweet tea. (For another quick shrimp dinnertime winner, check out Garlic Shrimp with Quinoa or Healthy Shrimp Pad Thai!)

Skinny Cajun Shrimp and Grits. Ready in 15 minutes!

Until next time, y’all.

Skinny Cajun Shrimp and Grits

Yield: 4 servings
Total Time:
15 mins
A lighter, healthier version of Cajun shrimp and grits that's ready in only 15 minutes. Enjoy of all of the classic flavor with none of the guilt!


For the Grits:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking or regular grits — not instant
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, — about 2 ounces
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, — about 1 ounce, plus additional for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions — white and green parts, plus additional for serving

For the Shrimp:

  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, — 25 count, peeled and deveined, with tails on
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Healthy Shrimp Recipe, Skinny Cajun Shrimp and Grits

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

I’m also sharing this post and recipe on the KitchenAid blog, where I am a contributor.

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…


  1. I love cajun food so much but I’ve never had grit before, which is weird because I grew up in the southern US. I totally want to try it now!

  2. Awesome  Erin, 
    Your talents must include mind reading, I have been looking for a Shrimp and Grits recipe. Can’t wait to try it  

  3. Oh yeah! This looks amazing Erin! I totally want shrimp this weekend thanks to this!
    Happy Friday!

  4. This is such a classic! I love all the cajun spice and how this meal is lightened up :)

  5. Ooh girl, yes! There’s nothing like a perfect bowl of shrimp and grits, and we’re picky down here :) This looks perfect! I’m personally not a fan of the tomato+tasso style, and what I usually make is so intensive and cream- and bacon-heavy, so this is excellent for summer. I’m right there with you about the *appeal* of being Southern.. I stayed down here for college because I was so fascinated with the idea of the culture! There are definitely a lot of amazing grandmamas who are just like you would think, and we definitely do still retain that culture. But then in practice there’s just a lot of nuttiness that comes with it, too, which I could do without. I’ll have to share my cooked banana pudding recipe with you! Straight from a like 85-year-old woman who literally marched Selma. So cool, and soooo damn good!

  6. Yummy!! This looks amazing!!

  7. Bonjour, Southern Belle! It’s great to have you back! Please tell me you made this in a full corset and A line skirt.

  8. shrimp & grits are my fave!! love ’em.

  9. Hahha I LOVE the inner southern belle :) 

  10. Elizabeth "Southern Belle" Nava Reply

    Well, bless your heart, you made grits!   (Though honestly the only use I ever really had for grits was getting the butter from the plate to my mouth.  But yours look delicious.) Sending love from Mobile as we speak!

  11. Oh, hellooooo!! Thanks! You made me want to lick my screen!

  12. Haha you are totally rocking your inner Southern Belle. Love this dish! It looks SO good!

  13. I want that southern belle to come and help me make dinner!!! 

  14. Oh, shrimp and grits – they are my not so secret crush!  Love this lighter recipe.  Have you tried the grits from Anson Mills?  THE BEST.

  15. That looks awesome! The shrimp looks SO tasty and flavorful – yumm!! Pinned :)

  16. Oh my lans, these grits look AMAZING. Pass me a big bowl, please and thank you!

  17. Cajun flavours are my favourite! This definitely sounds like my kind of meal. It looks sooo beautiful! I’ve never tried grits before, but I really feel like I’m missing out, especially after seeing this delicious bowl! I have to make this!

  18. There’s something about Southern food that drives me wild. I was in my glory 2 years ago when we visited Charleston. This shrimp looks amazing! Tell your inner Southern Belle she’s welcome back any time. Pinned.

  19. I have been feeling the need to channel  my inner belle as well :) Charleston is our dream city and shrimp and grits are a MUST

  20. I never tried this grits before. It looks like rice but not exactly rice. Where to find this my dear? And just in case, i don’t have it at hand, can i use rice or something else as an alternative? Thank you for sharing!

  21. I’ve been wanting to make these… but had no idea where to start :)

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